THE high heid yins planning the Commonwealth Games have very wisely decided to ban smoking.
And the cigarette plain packaging issue will hopefully be resolved in a sensible fashion. Let us rejoice that we'll not be made uncomfortable by the smell of pipes, cigars and cigarettes at the events in 2014.
My namesake King Jamie Stuart VI of Scotland and 1st of England also banned smoking in his court circles. The Lords must have slipped out to the palace gardens for a fly puff at their pipes.
However, it's no laughing matter: tobacco smoking is the chief, single avoidable cause of death in our society. The tobacco industry peddles a deadly and addictive product without a care for its consumers.
I also believe it's important to raise awareness of the exploitation of tobacco-farmers in developing countries. Critics say farmers are forced by tobacco companies to enter into contracts to buy seeds and fertilisers at great cost. This does not even take into account the level of damage these chemicals cause when they end up in the soil, waterways and food chain.
I should also mention the annual global death toll from smoking-related diseases - at present it's four million. By the year 2030 that figure is expected to rise to 10 million, with 70% of those deaths occurring in developing countries.
King James was very concerned about the health issues regarding smoking as can been seen in his famous work entitled A Counterblaste To Tobacco: "That the manifold uses of this vile custom of tobacco - taking may the better be understood, it is fit that you understand the reasons for its first entry into this country. Tobacco, being a common herb, was found out by some of the barbarous Indians to be an antidote against the pocks, a filthy disease whereunto these barbarous people are very much subject.
"Here is another mistaken claim. It is alleged that by the taking of tobacco many find themselves cured of various diseases!
"Likewise do old harlots thank their profession if they remain healthy, but they never consider how many die of the pocks in the flower of their youth. And so do old drunkards think they prolong their days by their swine-like diet, but never remember how many die drowned in drink before they be half-old.
"Now consider the conceit committed in this filthy custom. It is not great folly and uncleanness that at the table - a place of respect, of all cleanliness and modesty, men should not be ashamed to sit toffing of pipes and puff the smoke of tobacco one to another, making the filthy smoke and stink thereof to exhale athwart the dishes and infect the air, when very often men that abhor it are at their repast? Surely smoke becomes a kitchen far better than a dining chamber?
"And yet it makes a kitchen often in the inward parts of men. Some tobacco takers have been opened up after their death and their insides have been soiled and infected by an unctuous and oily kind of soot.
"Moreover, and this is a great iniquity and against all humanity: is the husband not ashamed to reduce thereby his delicate, wholesome and clean-complexioned wife to that extremity, that either she must also corrupt her sweet breath therewith or else resolve to live in a perpetual stinking torment?
"Have you not reason to be ashamed, and to give up this filthy habit?"
Forgive me for quoting the King at such length but I think it's fair to say his majesty did not approve of smoking.
I conquered my own addiction to smoking 50 years ago, and at 93 years of age I'm in excellent health and have five marathons to my credit.
One of the greatest satisfactions at my health lectures is to recite the final paragraph from the Counterblaste: "Good countrymen - I declare! It is a habit loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless!"
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